In the history of Martinique and St. Lucia in the Caribbean, cacao was one of several crops cultivated for export to satisfy new European tastes. The luxury commodity was later supplanted by sugarcane as the engine of the colonial island economies. Today both islands are experiencing a remarkable resurgence in the cultivation of cacao. During my visit to Martinique, I toured the Chocolat Elot factory, founded in 1911. I also met with one of the founding brothers of Frères Lauzéa Chocolatier who use local, tropical products in their chocolates and pȃtes de fruits. In the south of St. Lucia, cacao estate tours, bean-to-bar workshops, chocolate-infused menus and tastings are offered as part of developing ecotourism in Soufrière where wild and domesticated cacao trees thrive in the tropical rainforest. Visitors can stay at a traditional, multi-crop, and locally owned plantation (Fond Doux Estate) or the rejuvenated Rabot Estate, a cacao plantation which includes the upscale Boucan Hotel and Restaurant, owned by the British company Hotel Chocolat.

 St. Lucia and Martinique

August/September 2011

Chocolate as Muse

(“VOYAGE AUX PAYS DU CHOCOLAT”)